Principles vs. People
We must not lose sight of people when we observe the rituals and principles of Judaism
08/26/2003 06:50:15 AM
It's a strange question. All of us are human and don't behave much like mechines, so the ritual also carries with it a human touch and anybody who is well into ritual knows this. He asks himself about the direction that his prayers take and not only about the perfection of the techniques involved. In view of this situation even the most pedantic follower of religious ritual is not likely to be bothered by the question of prevention of the feeling that religious life revolves around ritual. The questioneer is not sincere and in my opinion is asking the question to try to irritate our Rabbi.
11/22/2000 12:27:15 AM
An authentic practice of Judaism requires a struggle with one's conscience. Adherence to Rules, conversely, is the battle of a different corps. Slavish followers of Rules are often those lacking internal locii of control, those for whom an absolute standard of right and wrong MUST exist beyond the self. Proclamations issuing from the self can be highly unreliable; they are Rorshach rather than litmus tests. A struggle with conscience is consequently more difficult, requiring a brave exploration of the self while the Rules require the its obliteration. The "rituals and principles" could be viewed as the theological equivalent of a LifeLine on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire:" even the most astute contestant calls upon some previously-apppointed oracle in a moment of high-stakes uncertainty, but ultimately a choice must still be made whether or not to heed the advisory.
11/21/2000 10:49:01 AM
Rabbi Wolpe's remarks apply all religions. Christians like myself also always need to be reminded that the greatest principle is love of God and people. All our prayers, rituals, and traditions are meant to make the realization of that first principle more likely to occur. Thanks for the reminder.
11/21/2000 09:32:30 AM
The point of Judaism's rules and rituals is to care for people, to improve the world. Unfortunately, that often gets lost in the minutiae of following the laws. Thanks, rabbi, for reminding us of what really counts.